as with any international best-seller who meets, the novel THE THIEF OF BOOKS now knows about its film adaptation. Signed from the pen of the author australian Markus Zusak, it is the british Brian Percival is at the helm of this film version, a film director best known for his work on television series such as NORTH AND SOUTH with Richard Armitage (THE HOBBIT), and more recently DOWNTON ABBEY, which earned him the Primetime Emmy Award for best direction in a mini-series or a tv movie in 2011.
On the eve of the Second World War, Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse) is sent to the small town of Molching in a foster home with her little brother Werner, who unfortunately died during the journey. Steal a book found on his tomb, it seems to be the only way to not be completely alone at home her new parents named Hans and Rosa Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson) and respectively a painter and a housewife. To be away from his mother, losing his brother, and landing among strangers, a race oh so difficult for a young girl of only 12 years, but now, its fate is emerging as a story of learning, where the different stages of her life will shape her new identity. She will learn to read thanks to Hans who will engage in heart-to-transmit all the magic and the poetry which abounds in the words, these two will weave quickly a fused relationship and therefore provide nice moments of tenderness, as if they had always been father and daughter.
By immersing himself in his new environment as much as she devotes to the 400 blows with his neighbor Rudy, Liesel acquires a certain sensitivity towards nature but also towards Rudy (Nico Liersch), which is not far from feeling more than friendship for her. But his awareness of the most blatant is when World War ii breaks out and Liesel realizes this time that the language can be a scourge especially powerful, a dangerous weapon capable of indoctrinating the masses if it is conveyed by a charismatic leader. The practice of auto-da-fe remains the proof that it deprives of speech those who would not be fitting with the imposed thought. And when the circumstances lead the couple Hubermann to hide a Jew (Ben Schnetzer) in their cellar, Liesel comes to read to him stories, reminding us again that the power of words can be positive and that they become a real shelter.
”A bildungsroman moving but also uneven”
Visually speaking, THE THIEF OF BOOKS is a success: careful production, impeccable photography, and historical reconstruction, the film has the merit of transporting the viewer to sumptuous landscapes of snow, a beauty that contrasts of course with the political context experienced by the protagonists. However the film due to its screenplay sometimes lacking in pace and setting of the lengths that eventually we get bored, and boredom is present, the more the film seems interminable. The film would have won to be reduced in duration but also in ” good feelings “: too many of these moments are no longer able to touch us and give the impression that the director and the writer do not know what to tell, a very strange feeling given that the film is an adaptation of a novel. Finally, the viewer hardly feel full all of the oppression and the cruelty of the war, with clashes outside-the-fields, effects, special means or even the superficiality with which is treated the Crystal Night, a scene so little prominent that it gives the impression of having been watered down.
Hence a starting premise interesting wanting us to live differently the Second World War by riding on a lyrical dimension, THE THIEF OF BOOKS finally gets not totally our membership, because of a scenario that runs out and an obvious lack of tension. The movie is still worthy to be seen if only for its technical beauty, the strong performances of the actors (the dazzling Sophie Nélisse !), his sincere moments of emotion, and her narrator is somewhat atypical. A bildungsroman moving, but all that uneven.
• Achievement : Brian Perical
• Screenplay : Michael Petroni
• Principal actors : Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer
• Country of origin : United States, Germany,
• Output : 5 févrer 2014
• Duration : 2h11
• Distributor : 20th Century Fox France
• Synopsis :The story of Liesel, a young girl sent in her family of adoption German during the Second world War. She learns to read with the support of her new family and Max, a Jewish refugee they are hiding under their stairs. For Liesel and Max, the power of words as well as their own imagination will be their only way to escape the face of the war.